Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie has requested the immediate freeing up of £1.5 billion of public money in Scottish Water to re-invest in job creating projects across Scotland.
In recent days it has been suggested that the Scottish Government is minded to reform Scottish Water into a Public Benefit Corporation, allowing the company to remain in public hands but borrow finance from the open market rather than relying on the government. Changing the way its debts are paid could yield a one-off windfall to the Scottish Government of at least £1.5 billion.
But it has been suggested that the SNP government will only takes steps to secure this windfall if it wins the referendum on splitting Scotland from the rest of the UK, leading Mr Rennie to claim that it would be an ‘independence bribe.’
Mr Rennie wants this money to be used now to bolster the Scottish economy during difficult times and has called on Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney to contact Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander to discuss the matter.
Scottish Liberal Democrats have identified key areas where this money could be spent with the potential creating 100,000 new jobs in Scotland.
Commenting, Mr Rennie said:
“Unlocking the money in Scottish Water to re-invest in job creating projects is a no brainer.
“We need this investment now to create 100,000 new jobs in broadband, science, energy efficiency and more but the SNP government seem content to sit on their hands and do nothing.
“There appears to be no longer any objection in principle to reforming Scottish Water by the SNP. They have dropped their wild and inaccurate rhetoric that this would be ‘privatisation’ that we heard during last year’s election. People will ask one simply question, why wait?
“The suspicion is that the SNP want to hold this money in reserve as an independence bribe, putting party politics above national interest.
“I want Scotland to be able to invest this money now. CBI Scotland and the Institute of Directors want Scotland to be able to free up these funds. Danny Alexander is ready and willing to listen to any approach the SNP government makes.
“John Swinney should pick up the phone and work with the Coalition Government to deliver this investment for Scotland.”